|Amazon Prime Air’s new hybrid prototype. Photo: Amazon|
[Avionics Today 12-01-2015] Amazon Prime Air has unveiled its latest design for the online retailer’s delivery Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) prototype. Two years after announcing its intentions to deliver packages to customers in “30 minutes or less” using UAVs, the company has released a hybrid prototype: a multi-rotor helicopter that rises vertically to 400 feet before transitioning into horizontal flight to become a “streamlined and fast airplane,” Jeremy Clarkson of Amazon said in a video introducing the prototype.
The hybrid prototype UAV can fly for 15 miles and uses sense and avoid technology to detect obstacles in its path. But Amazon has made it clear the company is working on several iterations of the delivery UAV.
“We are testing many different vehicle designs and delivery mechanisms to discover how best to deliver packages in a variety of environments. We have more than a dozen prototypes that we’ve developed in our research and development labs. The look and characteristics of the vehicles will evolve over time,” the company said in a statement on its site alongside the announcement.